Picking out a movie can be a lot like browsing the cereal aisle - the more options you have, the harder it is to decide what to watch. It's especially difficult for subscription-based services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which offer you more programming than you can even browse in one sitting. In our monthly segment "On Demand", we help make movie night memorable by offering our favorite films and shows being made available this month.
Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey (2014)
Rock-star astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, explores the nature of space and time in this visually stunning series that picks up where Carl Sagan left off more than 20 years ago. Available August 7th.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 (2013)
The first of art-house director Lars Von Trier's two-part epic about a self-professed nymphomaniac. Sensitive viewers be warned, critics have described Nymphomaniac as being lewd, disturbing, graphic, and brutal. However, those same critics say if you can handle all that, it's a remarkable film that is anything but dull. Available August 7th.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 2 (2013)
The second of art-house director Lars Von Trier's two-part epic, in which we continue to bear witness to a lifetime of perversity as recollected by a self-professed nymphomaniac. Available August 7th.
Dancing in Jaffa (2014)
In this documentary, a legendary ballroom bridges conflict when he returns to his hometown of Jaffa, by teaching Jewish and Palestinian Israelis to dance with one another. A touching true story with a message that is likely to resonate with viewers now more than ever. Available August 12th.
As is typically the case, most of the new additions to Amazon Prime's queue are also being made available this month on Netflix. Here are few good options that you can stream on either platform.
The Birdcage (1996)
This comedy about a gay night-club owner and his drag-queen partner may rely, at least in part, on flamboyant stereotypes, but you can't deny that The Birdcage tackled gay adoption issues nearly a decade before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Available now.
Mad Max (1979)
Nobody is all that interested in seeing a new Mel Gibson movie, but you might want to see Mad Max before the 2015 remake hits theaters and washes all evidence of Gibson's former glory from the film record. Available now.
Rocky I-V (1976-1990)
By offering up all five original Rocky movies at once, both Netflix and Amazon Prime have set you up for an excellent four movie marathon. Honestly, we all know not to bother with Rocky V. The films are jam-packed with enough workout montages to ensure you'll never need to see another onscreen pull-up again. Available now.
A moody history professor, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, becomes obsessed when he discovers he has a doppelganger, also played by Jake Gyllenhaal. In case you're wondering how you might have missed a movie starring not one, but two Jake Gyllenhaals, the answer is simple: it's Canadian. Available now.
Shailene Woodley plays a confused teen coming-of-age in a dystopian civilization in this first adaptation from Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy. A sci-fi successor to the Twilight franchise, Divergent wasn't much loved by critics, but still managed to pull in an admirable 56-million dollars when it opened this past March. You might as well see it now so you know why your teenager wants to get a "Dauntless" tattoo when he/she turns 18. Available August 5th.
The Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
While it doesn't quite live up to its warm and fuzzy predecessor, Jason Seigel's 2011 reboot simply called The Muppets, this movie will satisfy those who swoon for all things Henson. Starring Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Kermit. Available August 12.
The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014)
Critics didn't think this entry into the ever-growing archive of Spidey-flicks was particularly "amazing", but comic-book fans may (or may not?) be pleased by the plethora of classic villains packed into this 220 minute behemoth. Available August 19.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)
Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston star as hipster vampires and long-time lovers in this refreshing break from a decade's worth of blood-sucking cliches. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Available August 19th.